Liverpool schooling Manchester United on and off the pitch

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The tables have turned, both on and off the field for Manchester United and Liverpool, as John Duerden explains.

Sometimes it can look so easy. There was a time when Manchester United were winning championships and signing big stars every season and it felt like it would last forever.  

But it didn’t and instead, it is now Liverpool who have the Premier League trophy safely inside Anfield and are doing what they say you always should, strengthening from a position of strength.  

And doing so with an efficiency that must grate at Old Trafford who seem to have lost their once-sure footing when it comes to signing players.

According to reports, United are surprised that their fans are expressing their frustration on social media about the club’s transfer activity, or lack of it.  

That fans always want new players is not a new thing, even if that desire has become stronger in recent years, but what is new is the frustration is borne of a fanbase who were accustomed to success but are now watching Liverpool move ahead in more than one field.

United have been linked with all kinds of players but done deals have been thin on the ground this summer. The team finished level on points with Chelsea last season, a full 33 points behind Liverpool. 

Yet while the Blues have spent over $350 million on six new players, some of which look to be very exciting indeed, and are still in the market for more while the Reds have only made one major signing this summer in Donny van de Beek from Ajax. 

The big target that summer was Jadon Sancho but negotiations with Borussia Dortmund for the highly-rated young English star seem to have stalled. 

This has been going on for a long time and has become something of a saga.  

Gareth Bale is expected to join Tottenham Hotspur and, overall, United look to be struggling in the transfer market with lots of links, a few negotiations but not much concrete to report on. 

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still hopeful that a deal or two can be made. 

"We're looking at a small pool of players who can add to the quality of our team and let's see what we can do. The club's working hard and I understand that they're working hard," he said. 

"When we sit down and we discuss, sometimes it doesn't happen as planned. Life isn't a straight line here, sometimes things happen and I've always said it - I'm very happy to work with these players.

"There's still a few weeks left of the transfer window, it might happen that we get someone in.” 

When you have a manager saying that the club is working hard to get the deals done then it is not a good sign.  

But while United have been talking, Liverpool have just been getting the job done and in the kind of slick and smooth fashion they play on the field. 

Fans of the champions had been moaning a little too, just weeks after winning a first league title for 30 years. There were some concerns that there had been no new acquisitions and not much talk of anyone coming in. 

But then it all happened on Friday with little fanfare. In the morning it was suddenly announced that Liverpool had signed Thiago Alcantata from Bayern Munich. This two-time UEFA Champions League winner brings quality, experience and quality once again to the Liverpool starting eleven. And all this for less than $50 million. 

And then in the afternoon there was another signing. Almost from out of nowhere, the club signed Diogo Jota from Wolves for a hefty fee of around $80 million. The Portuguese attacker may not walk straight into the first team but should be a fine understudy to the legendary attacking trio of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.  

In the space of a few hours, Liverpool have strengthened the first team and also increased the depth in their squad. There is always something of a risk with signings but these look pretty solid. 

Liverpool have the look of a well-oiled machine on and off the pitch. Manchester United have a lot of work to do.

Source SBS The World Game